The Senate overwhelmingly voted Thursday to start work on a $95 billion spending bill that would provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — one day after it formally killed off a larger bill that included $20 billion in border security spending.
The 67-31 vote included “yeas” from 17 Republicans while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the only “nay” from the Democratic conference.
A final vote on the legislation is not expected until next week as senators begin the lengthy process of negotiating which amendments will be voted on as part of the final package.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Thursday’s vote “a good first step.”
“Failure to pass this bill would only embolden autocrats like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] who want nothing more than America’s decline,” the Brooklyn Democrat said from the chamber floor.
“We are going to keep working on this bill until the job is done,” Schumer added.
For months, Republicans had demanded that any supplemental foreign aid bill include comprehensive reforms to bolster security at the southern border.
Senate negotiators spent roughly four months hashing out a $118 billion deal, but former President Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) quickly came out in opposition after the text was released Sunday evening, with GOP leaders in the lower chamber warning that taking the measure up would be a “waste of time.”
A version of the supplemental bill with the border security provisions failed to clear the 60-vote legislative filibuster Wednesday, forcing the Senate to start again on the smaller measure.
Schumer said Thursday that he would allow Republicans to propose amendments to the $95 billion bill, but did not say whether those dealing with immigration would be considered.
Johnson has said that he will only consider separate aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan rather than a massive supplemental spending bill. However, his leverage may be reduced after the House failed to approve a stand-alone $17.6 billion Israel support bill earlier this week.
Republicans who backed the Thursday supplemental were Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, John Thune of South Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Todd Young of Indiana.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) did not vote.
Notable foreign policy hawks such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) voted against advancing the measure, insisting that border security provisions be included.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) who helped negotiate the border deal for Republicans, also voted against the standalone measure, while fellow negotiators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) voted for it.